How key is the Mesa MKIIa to the Keene College '80 JGB tone?

How key is the Mesa MKIIa to the Keene College '80 JGB tone?

Postby jackevorkian » Sun Nov 06, 2011 11:13 am

By far my favorite Garcia tone of all time...and rather short lived. The overdrive is a bit darker and nastier (in a good way), and the cleans are fatter and sweeter than any of his other rigs. Can this all be chalked up to the MKIIa?

If I were in the market for a Mesa, having never owned a Mesa previously, is this the one to try and find? Would the MKIIb or MKIIc be a better choice?

Most of the Mesa talk on this site seems primarily about Bobby tones...curious about the Jerry/Mesa perspective.
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Re: How key is the Mesa MKIIa to the Keene College '80 JGB t

Postby playingdead » Sun Nov 06, 2011 6:38 pm

I think a lot of it is chalked up to the Dual Sound pickups in the Tiger at the time, I hear that fatter tone on the GD recordings from around then ... November 1979 soundboards and spring 1980 as well. I think the JGB stuff through the Boogie is a bit dirtier but you're not going to get that fat tone from a split Super II in the middle, I don't think.

Scully also remarked that Garcia played his guitar a lot louder in the JGB than he did in the Dead, which could have something to do with it as well.

Off topic a bit, but something that hasn't been discussed a whole lot is also how the cabinet mics were being run through the channel strips on the board ... I just bought a pair of Golden Age 73 mic preamps, which are essentially clones of a Neve 1073 channel strip and depending on how you stage the gains, you can add a lot of warmth and character to what's coming through the microphone.

I remember an interview with Healy where he talked about liking to run faders on the board wide open and establish his mix from the trim pots on the channels because he thought the transient response was better that way on the Gamble console they were using toward the end. That makes me wonder what the gain staging added to the guitar tone.
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Re: How key is the Mesa MKIIa to the Keene College '80 JGB t

Postby tigerstrat » Sun Nov 06, 2011 8:43 pm

jackevorkian wrote: is this the one to try and find? Would the MKIIb or MKIIc be a better choice?


http://homepage.mac.com/mesaboogie/MarkIIC.html
this link describes the evolution of the Mark II iterations; the reverb mod mentioned ca be done on any II or III and is essential imho.
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Re: How key is the Mesa MKIIa to the Keene College '80 JGB t

Postby jeffm725 » Tue Nov 08, 2011 10:35 am

jackevorkian wrote:By far my favorite Garcia tone of all time...and rather short lived. The overdrive is a bit darker and nastier (in a good way), and the cleans are fatter and sweeter than any of his other rigs. Can this all be chalked up to the MKIIa?

If I were in the market for a Mesa, having never owned a Mesa previously, is this the one to try and find? Would the MKIIb or MKIIc be a better choice?

Most of the Mesa talk on this site seems primarily about Bobby tones...curious about the Jerry/Mesa perspective.


Actually, the Mark 2a is more like the original Mark 1's than it is the 2b's and 2c's. The 2c's especially are a very different animal especially when you get to the 2c+ which is renown as the "Metallica" amp. Forget buying one if you are looking for a bargain. 2c+'s gog for 3-4000 dollars where 2a's go for a grand!

From the Link above which is specific to 2a's and 2 b's:

As noted above, the preamp gain on the Mark IIs occurs after the tone controls. A Mesa/Boogie person has stated to me that the IIA has a "tighter, more focused sound" than the Mark I. The clean channel on this is very nice,

The IIA and IIB, and some late-model Mark I amps used a silicon device called "fetron" in place of one of the 12AX7 preamp tubes, and included a switch for configuring the amp for either fetron or 12AX7 operation. The reason for using a fetron was to address some of the problems associated with microphonic 12AX7 tubes in a high-gain situation; somehow, Boogie users didn't care too much for the fetron, so its use was later discontinued.

AND

"Note: Lots of players are buying up old Mark II and Mark IIB amps for their clean channels because, Sacks again here, "the subtle break-up you can get from that channel with its preamp volume dimed is very, very nice."


-----------------
I personally find the immediate above comment to be true. The 2a has the "clean twin" thing happening in spades, it has this first stage preamp gain that stays really clean unless you dime it, and even dimed, it is actually still clean, unless you hit with some hard input (by digging in with pick and your volume dimed on your axe, or with a pedal)....It is very responsive.

I also agree with Vic, that the Dual sounds were an equally important part of the equation. The boogie with the Dual sounds is a winning combination, I am actually about to yank my super 2's out of my Musician to go this route myself.
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Re: How key is the Mesa MKIIa to the Keene College '80 JGB t

Postby Capt Rosebuddy » Wed Nov 09, 2011 9:40 am

playingdead wrote:I think a lot of it is chalked up to the Dual Sound pickups in the Tiger at the time, I hear that fatter tone on the GD recordings from around then ... November 1979 soundboards and spring 1980 as well. I think the JGB stuff through the Boogie is a bit dirtier but you're not going to get that fat tone from a split Super II in the middle, I don't think.
Scully also remarked that Garcia played his guitar a lot louder in the JGB than he did in the Dead, which could have something to do with it as well..


Couldn't agree more. I Think that Keene College release has really done wonders for the gear head scene, it's basically lightning in a bottle.
The other thing to keep in mind, and it's a little off topic, is the 13+ lbs of guitar the pup's where attached to..
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Re: How key is the Mesa MKIIa to the Keene College '80 JGB t

Postby tigerstrat » Wed Nov 09, 2011 1:53 pm

Capt Rosebuddy wrote:
playingdead wrote:I think a lot of it is chalked up to the Dual Sound pickups in the Tiger at the time, I hear that fatter tone on the GD recordings from around then ... November 1979 soundboards and spring 1980 as well. I think the JGB stuff through the Boogie is a bit dirtier but you're not going to get that fat tone from a split Super II in the middle, I don't think.
Scully also remarked that Garcia played his guitar a lot louder in the JGB than he did in the Dead, which could have something to do with it as well..


Couldn't agree more. I Think that Keene College release has really done wonders for the gear head scene, it's basically lightning in a bottle.
The other thing to keep in mind, and it's a little off topic, is the 13+ lbs of guitar the pup's where attached to..


Dual Sounds (my fave JG tone of all, and my current middle pup of choice) were present from mid-'78 to late '81... many, many great recordings feature them! Most of this was through a Twin Reverb preamp though. The JGB February-March '80 tour with the Mesa Mk IIA has a discernably different sound imho, which I hope most would agree.
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Re: How key is the Mesa MKIIa to the Keene College '80 JGB t

Postby GeneralGoldilocks » Wed Dec 21, 2011 6:11 pm

Another question that could be asked in this discussion is how close to the Mesa Boogie Mark 11c+ tone you can get with a Mesa Boogie Studio Pre amp and a Mesa Boogie 50/50 power section. Here is a quote from the seller or a mesa boogie studio pre on ebay, so who knows if it's really true or not. Seems like regardless of how close it gets the the MK11c+ it gets it would be a sweet rig that could be a little more configurable by swapping out pre and power sections than any Mark Series Amps, although I bet they are sweet, too!

"Up for sale is a Mesa Boogie Studio Preamp. This unit is considered one of the best preamps that Mesa has released. According to Mesa Boogie Tech Mike Bendinelli, this unit paired with a Mesa 50/50 Poweramp(which I am also selling) is the closest you can get to the fabled Mark IIC+ tone, since this unit has the exact same preamp section as the Mark IIC+. Get the ultimate Metallica tone without spending $4000. The unit also has 2 other amazing channels."
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Re: How key is the Mesa MKIIa to the Keene College '80 JGB t

Postby jeffm725 » Thu Dec 22, 2011 9:32 am

one of our sound guys has a studio pre amp with a 50/50 power amp in a beautiful rack rig (Real tube reverb and some other great stuff in that rack too) anyway, the studio preamp is really, really nice, especially when paired with the 50/50.
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Re: How key is the Mesa MKIIa to the Keene College '80 JGB t

Postby jeager » Thu Dec 22, 2011 5:49 pm

I have a Mesa 50/50 with the SMS Classic as a front end and I love it. If I had gotten an amp like this 20 years ago I would be a much better player now because I can't stop playing the thing. Its generally very clean at the volumes I play but on the occasion that I have been able to boost the volume a bit (like outdoor gigs) it clips very nicely, or is that my speakers breaking up, don't really know but i like it.
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Re: How key is the Mesa MKIIa to the Keene College '80 JGB t

Postby lunasparks » Mon Mar 19, 2012 6:18 pm

Thread revived!

GAS has seized me again and I just bought a Mark iia (being shipped now). What I was looking for was a 1x12 combo to use for occasional gigs. I love the tone I get from my PRRI (1x10, JBL K110) but it can't stay clean at our gig volumes; and I REALLY love my SMS paired with single E120 and MC250 powered...but it's kind of a pain to drag around. So I thought I might try something a little different, thus the Mesa!

Here's my question: do we have any evidence of what kind of settings Jerry used with the iia during the Winter '80 god-tone days? I have a vague recollection like I've seen a pic that at least shows clearly how he set the EQ but I can't seem to find it anywhere.

Anyway, there are so many knobs on the amp I'm not sure where to even begin :shock: ... so thought I'd check to see if anyone knows how Jerry had his dialed in and/or what others are using for settings. Any help much appreciated!!
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Re: How key is the Mesa MKIIa to the Keene College '80 JGB t

Postby lunasparks » Sun Mar 25, 2012 4:30 pm

lunasparks wrote:Thread revived!

GAS has seized me again and I just bought a Mark iia (being shipped now). What I was looking for was a 1x12 combo to use for occasional gigs. I love the tone I get from my PRRI (1x10, JBL K110) but it can't stay clean at our gig volumes; and I REALLY love my SMS paired with single E120 and MC250 powered...but it's kind of a pain to drag around. So I thought I might try something a little different, thus the Mesa!

Here's my question: do we have any evidence of what kind of settings Jerry used with the iia during the Winter '80 god-tone days? I have a vague recollection like I've seen a pic that at least shows clearly how he set the EQ but I can't seem to find it anywhere.

Anyway, there are so many knobs on the amp I'm not sure where to even begin :shock: ... so thought I'd check to see if anyone knows how Jerry had his dialed in and/or what others are using for settings. Any help much appreciated!!


Well, given the lack of response, maybe thread not so revived?! :-)

Anyway, I got the Mark iia yesterday. Date on chassis is 5/8/1979 and it's a 60/100 watt switchable with graphic EQ and (weak) reverb. Although I'm still struggling to get it dialed-in right--I know my settings aren't really there just yet--it does sound pretty damn good, especially with the volume 1 cranked to give it some grit. As a combo it doesn't have the transparency of the SMS + MC250 combination, which is really tough to beat. But I can see myself using this guy as a grab & go that will have no problem getting up to gig volumes--would be nice to be able to get closer to that Winter '80 tone!!

A few questions if anyone is game or has advice to give:

(1) per my questions above, if anyone wants to share tips on how they dial in their Mark II for Jerry tone, I'd be interested to hear.

(2) the owner's manual indicates it can be used as a preamp only, but when I tried to link the preamp out to my MC250, the Mesa continued to give power to the tube section and the speaker. I guess I was expecting it to kill the rest of the amp but not the case. Does this sound right? Anyone else use it just as a preamp and have success completely bypassing the Mesa tube power section?

(3) Maybe I'm just going deaf from how loud this badboy gets, but the amp does seem maybe a little "muddy" no matter what I'm doing -- could be that this is just me using the very clean and very tight SMS as my benchmark (which is really a tone that's tough to beat!) -- should I expect it's normal to not be able to achieve a Twin/SMS level of clarity and clean? Maybe fresh tubes would help? Thoughts?

(4) the amp was purchased with EVM 12L speaker included. I have a K120 being reconed (with JBL kit) this week, and it's going to find a home in the Mesa. The EVM 12L is likely to go on eBay soon thereafter, but if anyone's interested in the 12L send me a PM soon. I'm in Fairfield, CT and would be open to pickup if avoiding shipping changes anything (that speaker is heavy like an E120!!).

Happy playing folks!
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Re: How key is the Mesa MKIIa to the Keene College '80 JGB t

Postby Staemius » Sun Mar 25, 2012 5:59 pm

Love this amp -

Volume 8
Treble 8
Bass 1-2
Middle 4 -5
Master 1 about 3
Lead Drive 7
Lead Master 2-3
Reverb 4
Prescence 4-5

Can't help you with the pre-amp questions - never tried that. Certainly not as clean as the SMS - not a fender style-clean - has some nice drive/grit to it.
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Re: How key is the Mesa MKIIa to the Keene College '80 JGB t

Postby lunasparks » Sun Mar 25, 2012 6:05 pm

Staemius wrote:Love this amp -

Volume 8
Treble 8
Bass 1-2
Middle 4 -5
Master 1 about 3
Lead Drive 7
Lead Master 2-3
Reverb 4
Prescence 4-5

Can't help you with the pre-amp questions - never tried that. Certainly not as clean as the SMS - not a fender style-clean - has some nice drive/grit to it.


Thanks for settings! Surprised that you have reverb at only 4 -- I have mine at 10 and it's like there's almost nothing there; very anemic 'verb it, which I understand is a well-known issue...
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Re: How key is the Mesa MKIIa to the Keene College '80 JGB t

Postby jeffm725 » Wed Mar 28, 2012 10:07 am

Couple things......

1)Flaky Reverb on these, after 3 tanks and the resistor mods, I said screw it and I use a Holy Grail Nano put right before the Amp input (and have run it in the loop as well, more on the loop in a minute, because the loop doesnt work as loops do now, and the mark 2a I think was the first, if not one of the first amps with a loop). The Nano, for GD material sounds great and better than the couple different tanks I had onboard. However, even if you dont use a reverb tank in that amp, keep a decent 12at7 in the reverb driver tube and make sure the reverb level on back is set to something, as it does still affect the gain in the signal path

2) You mentioned muddy:
CRANK the prescence on the back. Mine is set to between 8-10, depending on room. Try it all the way on 10, it will sound bright to you, but if you heard Jerrys amp out of band context it probably would have sounded too bright too.

3) Dont use the Second Channel, Lead drive, Lead gain, or lead master. Simply use the first channel which would be the firsts gain pot all the way on the left (cranked) and the first Master Volume. Push every other Push/Pull Pot IN (or make sure foot switch is set for channel 1 )Also, dont use the EQ, defeat it.


First 5 knobs is all you need on the mark2a for Jerry (and presence on back) , everything else other than that defeated.

Gain1: 8-10
Treble:8
Mids: 7-8
Bass:1-2
Master Volume to taste (on a loud stage in 60 watt mode, I rarely if ever find the need for 100 watt, my master never goes above 3.5!)

What tubes do you have in there?

You want to think of this Amp like a Twin. Use it for its cleans and use pedals for dirt.
Last edited by jeffm725 on Wed Mar 28, 2012 10:11 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: How key is the Mesa MKIIa to the Keene College '80 JGB t

Postby jeffm725 » Wed Mar 28, 2012 10:08 am

oh and as far as the preamp tap,

are you using the one on the underside of the chassis? That is the one to use.
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